Thursday, September 24, 2009

The Beginning Stages of Character Development in Fiction Writing

Hello all,

I am working on the beginning stages of character development for a new novel I am drafting, tentatively titled THE ROPE, THE TIRE, AND THE TREE. There are three main characters; Walker Abbey, a black teenager living in 1925's rural Connecticut, Karen Madison, an eight-year-old white girl living in what has become the northern Connecticut suburbs in 1970, and Felicia "Filly" Orlando, a current-day wife and mother fruitlessly trying to mend her troubled family in comfortable Enfield, CT.

I am using a formula I found on and it was drafted by a man named Jacob. In this formula, Jacob asks us to pose several questions regarding the character. Some of the questions are, "What is your characters eye color, height, weight, favorite color, age, name, hobbies..."

The formula appears on the surface to be rather simple, even rudimentary, but I chose to take a narrative approach to answering these questions and in doing so, found it to be extremely exciting. Instead of just answering "blue, 6 feet, 190 pounds," etc., I wrote out the answers as if I were drafting a chapter in my novel. Limiting my narrative to one page, I was able to get a concise, yet three-dimensional outline of my character that I didn't think possible so early in the process.

I am very comfortable with this approach, and grateful to Jacob for the formula. I will be teaching this formula in detail, along with other elements of creative writing in my upcoming workshop at the Buttonwood Tree in Middletown, CT. Please visit my web site, for details on the workshop and email me if you would like to register.

As I continue to develop the story, I will let you know what techniques I've learned to make the writing process more exciting and productive. I will also keep you updated on the progress of the story itself. Stay with me as I take you through the various steps of drafting a full-length novel!

If you have questions or would like to post your own insights on fiction writing, please feel free to respond to this blog. I look forward to hearing from you!
Happy writing!